Beaver Reintroduction in the White River National Forest

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Beaver Reintroduction in the White River National Forest

Date: 08/19/2022     State: CO     Issues: Climate, Watersheds, Wildlife     Partners: Audubon Society, Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Independence Pass Foundation, Sierra Club Airport Origin : Aspen, CO    


After scientists conducted initial habitat scoping, EcoFlight flew wildlife scientists and the media to 'air truth' potential beaver reintroduction sites.

The White River National Forest is one of the jewels of the Roaring Fork Valley, providing endless benefits to our local community including recreation, scenic beauty, and enhanced quality of life. The forest is threatened by climate change, but reintroducing beavers can help mitigate negative effects. After scientists identified potential beaver reintroduction sites in the White River National forest using a digital tool, our overflight provided "air truthing" to confirm the suitability of the sites.

Beaver reintroduction will help local ecosystems become healthier and more resilient to our changing climate, and beaver dams help sequester carbon in sediments and riparian vegetation. Water impounded in beaver dams makes surrounding vegetation less likely to burn and creates fire breaks, making the forest more resistant to drought and severe wildfire. Beavers construct dams and channels that in turn create habitat for fish, migratory birds, and many other species, at relatively little economic expense to the community. These structures promote the growth of riparian vegetation, leading to improved water quality, and maintain downstream flows by storing water.

Beavers are native to the White River National Forest, and used to be plentiful here and across the West. Historic trapping and hunting, combined with habitat loss, nearly drove the species to extinction. The efforts of our partners to reintroduce beavers to the White River National Forest will have wide-spread positive effects for local ecosystems, wildlife habitat, and climate resiliency.

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